Colombia is situated at the northern tip of South America. With very diverse geography it boasts lush rainforests, Andean peaks, savannahs and coffee plantations. Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world, after Brazil which is approximately 7 times bigger. About 10% of the species of the Earth live in Colombia, including over 1,900 species of bird, 10% of the world’s mammals species and 14% of the amphibian species. The Malpelo fauna and flora sanctuary is a marine park off the coast of Colombia, a Unesco world heritage site since 2006, it is widely recognised as one of the best dive sites in the world with sightings of a wide variety of sharks.

After decades of civil war, Colombia has been making significant improvements to security which have made it more safely accessible for travellers. Bogota, the now vibrant and artistic capital, is experiencing a rebirth and Cartagena old town offers a taste of colonial life. For the more adventurous trek through rainforests and mountains to the ruins of Cuidad Perdida (lost city), go white water rafting in San Gil or take a mud bath inside the crater of Volcan de Lodo El Totumo.

The cuisine of Colombia takes influence from the indigenous ‘Chibcha’ people, along with Spanish, African, Arab and some Asian cuisines. Dishes include Arroz con coco (rice with coconut), Almojábana (bread rolls), Sudado de Pollo (chicken stew), Lechona Tolimense (whole pork stuffed with rice, peas, potatoes and spices), Arepas de Queso (corn cakes served with cheese) and Crema de Mazorca (corn soup). I decided to make Chuleta Valluna (breaded pork) from the Valle del Cauca region of Colombia, which we had with roasted potatoes. It had a crispy texture and nice flavour.

Rating: 8/10

Serves: 2
Prep time: 15 minutes + 3 hours or overnight marinating
Cook time: 6 minutes

2 pork loin steaks without bone
1 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp spring onions, finely chopped
3 tbsp onions, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tbsp paella seasoning
2 eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 tbsp vegetable oil

Put the pork steaks between sheets of clingfilm and pound them until each piece is about ¼” thick (or ask the butcher to do this for you!)
Place the pork steaks in a large plastic bag and add the onions, spring onions garlic and cumin powder, shaking the bag gently to be sure the meat is covered. Let pork marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight
Place flour, salt, pepper and paella seasoning on a plate and mix
Beat the eggs and put on a second plate
On a third plate place the bread crumbs
Remove the pork from the marinade and pat dry with kitchen towels
One at the time coat the pork with the flour mixture, dip in the eggs and coat with bread crumbs (you can double dip them in the egg and breadcrumbs for an extra crisp texture)
In a large non-stick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, put the pork steaks in and fry about 3 minutes per side or until golden
Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen towels
Serve with your preferred type of potatoes and vegetables or salad

Ingredients for Chuleta Valluna (breaded pork cutlets) (Although there is saffron in the photo, I used paella seasoning)

Marinating the pork

Making Chuleta Valluna (breaded pork cutlets)

Chuleta Valluna (breaded pork cutlets)

Chuleta Valluna (breaded pork cutlets)

Chuleta Valluna (breaded pork cutlets)

Chuleta Valluna (breaded pork cutlets) with roast potatoes

Catedral Primada on Plaza Bolívar, Bogota
Catedral Primada, Plaza Bolivar, Bogota

Cartagena street
Colonial street in Cartagena

Ciudad Perdida Colombia
Ciudad Perdida, Colombia

Taking a mud bath in Volcan de Lodo El Totumo, Colombia
Mud bath in Volcan de Lodo El Totumo

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